Project Canterbury


John Coleridge Patteson

An account of his death at Nukapu, and description of S. Barnabas Chapel, Norfolk Island, dedicated to his memory.


*Issued in loving remembrance by the Melanesian Mission on the 50th anniversary of his death.

"Death from the hand of his children,
Death like the death of his Lord."

*This was the desire of the Author, but has not been carried out until nearly the 60th anniversary.




Transcribed by the Right Reverend Dr. Terry Brown
Bishop of Malaita, Church of the Province of Melanesia, 2006

The thanks of the Melanesian Mission are due to Dr. Patton, Government Medical Officer at Norfolk Island, for his kindness in taking the pictures which are reproduced, and to others on the Island and elsewhere for information given.



[9] THE

Death of Bishop Patteson

IT is now 50 years since the news came that John Coleridge Patteson, first Bishop of Melanesia, had been killed at Nukapu on Sept. 20, 1871, and there are still those among us, who can vividly recall the horror and grief with which that news was received. Had it happened in the first years of his Ministry, no one would have been surprised, but Bishop Patteson had been 17 years in the Mission, first as Priest and then as Bishop for the last ten years, and was known to be greatly trusted and beloved.


No one would have guessed that the tiny Island of Nukapu would take so prominent a place in Melanesian history. It lies about thirty miles to the North-West of Santa Cruz, and is one of a number of similar reef islands. It is typical of the Coral formation, small and low lying, scarcely two miles round and rising only a few feet above the level of the sea. It is protected by an outlying reef, which gradually curves in to the shore from a distance of three miles. A small opening in this reef near the island makes it possible for the skilled boatman of Nukapu to cross in his canoe, if the weather be calm; but he generally makes use of the larger and safer opening at the point furthest from the Island. Should the tide be out, however, there is barely sufficient water to enable the canoe to thread its way between the coral rocks with which the lagoon is studded.

The people are Polynesian, of good looks, hardy, friendly and even demonstrative. At the present time there are only about thirty inhabitants, and at no time could the Island have supported a large population, though probably it was larger, at the time of Bishop Patteson's [9/10] visit. Owing to the poverty of the sandy coral soil, little vegetable food can be grown, although cocoanuts and bread fruit do well in the bush, and the people rely mostly on fish, which, when dried and smoked, they take in their large canoes to Santa Cruz and barter for yams and bananas.

They are splendid fishermen and boatmen, quite as much at home on the sea as on dry land. While their husbands and brothers go out with their nets and lines, the women sit at home and weave the baskets and mats, which also find their way to Santa Cruz, and are bartered for food.


Such was Nukapu when Bishop Patteson first visited it, in company with Bishop George Augustus Selwyn on August 12, 1856, and the Bishop has left an interesting impression of his visit in his journal of that date. "Reached Nukapu about noon--a coral reef covered with cocoanuts, and surrounded by a sunken reef enclosing a lagoon. Eleven canoes came off in a most friendly manner and saluted us by throwing roasted bread fruit on board. Theft of Mr. Patteson's telescope."

The last entry leaves the reader wondering, and with a strong curiosity, as to the details of the theft--Was the thief discovered and the telescope returned? At any rate, it does not seem to have affected the friendly relations between the ship and the Island, for in the following year a landing was made and a friendly reception given, and, as a further proof of cordiality, the Bishop and the chief exchanged names, and, on the occasional visits paid in subsequent voyages, the same kindly welcome was given.


Fifteen years after his first visit to Nukapu the Bishop left Norfolk Island for his last voyage on the Southern Cross. Progress was much. Slower in those days, and, leaving Norfolk Island on April 27, 1871, it was not till May 16 that the Bishop landed at Mota in the Banks group. Mota was a bright spot in the Mission then, and, under the care of George Sarawia, Deacon in charge of the group, the people had received careful teaching and preparation for Baptism. Here the Bishop stayed till the ship returned [10/12] from Norfolk Island, and of the three hundred adults and children, whom he baptised, there must be some living now. Four months the Bishop spent with them, till, on August 19th, the ship was seen and the Bishop fetched on board by the Captain. Once more he visited San Cristoval and cruised round the Eastern Solomon Islands, little knowing that it was for the last time that he would minister to those people, so near to his heart. Then, turning homewards, the ship beat up slowly to Santa Cruz with an ever increasing beam wind, making only two knots an hour. After ten days they sighted Nukapu, having stayed becalmed for four days near the Volcano Tinakula, the wind having suddenly dropped. To these four days we owe the Bishop's last journal and letters, and the impression made on him by Tinakula. "It was very solemn," he writes, "to look at it and think how puny all man's works are in comparison with this little volcano. What is all the bombardment of Paris to these masses of fire and hundreds of tons of rock cast out into the sea? If He do but touch the hills they shall smoke! And now what will the next few days bring forth? It may be God's Will that the opening for the Gospel may be given to us now. I shall be thankful if this visit ends favourably, and oh! how thankful if we obtain any lads."


On the morning of that momentous day, September 20, while the ship lay with idle sails, becalmed off the Island, the Bishop gave the boys his last daily instruction on the Acts of the Apostles, and the point he had reached, by a strange coincidence, was the death of Stephen. So, Edward Wogale, George Sarawia's brother, tells us, who was on board at the time, and wrote, later, a full account of the voyage.

Meanwhile, all unknown to the Bishop, the little Island had been passing through a troubled and evil time. Just before the arrival of the "Southern Cross," a ship had come on a very different errand. Bodies, not souls of men, were the object of the visit, labourers for the white men of Fiji. How they succeeded in getting recruits is not certainly known, but there is a story that they were decoyed on board by the Captain's lying representation that the Bishop was ill on board, and wished to see them. At all events, five young men went, suspecting nothing, and no sooner were they safely on board than the ship set sail for [12/14] Fiji. The excitement and rage on the island may be guessed, for in so small a community each one would be connected, more or less nearly, with the kidnapped boys. They could do nothing to bring the lads back, but at least they could avenge them, and for this, five lives were needed; nor, to their glad surprise, had they long to wait for them. That the lives paid should have been so valuable may seem to us deplorable and out of all proportion to the offence; but it must be remembered, that the people of Nukapu had only a hazy idea of the Bishop's greatness, the visits paid by him had been very hurried, and the name "Bishop" was to them a name only.


It has been my privilege many times to cross the reef and follow the course taken by the canoe, which carried the Bishop ashore over the lagoon, and I have spent several weeks on the Island.

I remember one day I sat near the Memorial Cross with the man who, as a lad, had been set by the chief to look after the Bishop; and this man told me then all that he knew. His story, supplemented by entries from the journals of those on board, and from the Log of the "Southern Cross," tells us all we shall ever know of the death of the Bishop and his companions.

About noon the "Southern Cross" lay some three miles to the west of Nukapu, close to the main opening in the reef. The boat was lowered, and the Bishop, the Rev. Joseph Atkin, his chaplain, Stephen Taroaniara, a young San Cristoval teacher, John Nonono of Mota, where the Bishop had lately stayed, and James Minipas, pulled towards the reef. It was soon found that the tide was out and it would be very irksome, if not impossible, to pole the boat over the shallow lagoon. But by this time canoes had come from the shore, and the Bishop determined to go in one of these, leaving the boat to follow when the tide came in. It would be a wearisome paddle to the shore under a hot sun, and the Bishop was no doubt thankful, on landing, to go into the comparative cool of one of the palm thatch huts and to lie down on the clean mat, which is always spread for the use of honoured guests.

While he rested, the Chief went to procure food, and told my informant and another boy to sit with the Bishop during his absence.

[15] When the Chief returned it was to find his guest lying dead, struck by the hand of a man from the other village on the island. This man, Atule, had come in quietly to the hut and taken his stand behind the Bishop. In his hand was a club, such as the people use to beat out the grass for their mats. With this he struck the Bishop on the head and so, unwittingly, killed his truest friend. Horror-struck, the Chief snatched up his bow and arrows and went in pursuit of the murderer, who had hidden himself in the bush. It was by no command or wish of his that the murder had been done, and we can only conjecture the cause that led to such a sudden breach of friendship. The Bishop had been warmly welcomed: every mark of goodwill had been shown him: my informant assured me again and again that no evil was contemplated. What, then, had happened? Now it will be remembered that the boat was left lying off the reef, waiting for the turn of the tide with the four men in it; and the canoes, which came up from the shore, would, according to their custom, paddle up and surround it. Quite possibly it suddenly occurred to some one of these excited natives that here were the five lives they needed, four men in the boat, and the fifth on shore. Just a hint to the rest, their five friends kidnapped; the five men here; and the ready arrows would fly. Mr. Atkin was struck in the left shoulder; Stephen was pierced in the shoulders and chest by six arrows; John's cap was nailed to his head, and James only escaped by throwing himself to the bottom of the boat. They were able to pull back to the ship and make their report to Captain Jacob.

There was only one Missionary remaining on board, Mr. Brooke, and he attended to the wounded, while the mate, Mr. Bongard (afterwards Captain of the "Southern Cross"), was told to prepare to go to the aid of the Bishop. Then a brave thing was done, when Mr. Atkin, wounded as he was, insisted on returning to aid in the rescue of the Bishop. His godson, Joseph Wate, and Charles Sapibuana and an English sailor made up the crew. By this time the tide was rising, and it was soon possible to cross over the reef and row towards the shore.

Now much of this must have been clearly visible from the hut; the attack on the four men, and the subsequent commotion. Four lives secured already!--the fatal blow was struck and the complete number gained. All was [15/16] confusion; yet, in the midst of it, some wrapped the Bishop's body in the mat, on which he had rested, and carried it to one of the canoes on the shore. On his breast was laid a frond of sago palm, tied into five knots, and a woman named Luwani was ordered to take her canoe and tow the other towards the boat, which was now approaching over the lagoon. When nearing the boat she cast the canoe adrift, pulled back to the shore, and the lifeless body of the martyred Bishop was taken to the ship. Only two words were said, "The body"; then sail was set and the dead Bishop and his wounded companions were slowly borne away. The following entries in the Log of the "Southern Cross" tell briefly what followed on the days succeeding this, the saddest and yet the most glorious in the history of the Melanesian Mission.

21/9. At 7.30 a.m. Buried the Bishop. 4 p.m. Nukapu about 7 miles. We cannot get clear of the cursed island where the Bishop was murdered.

27/9. 5 a.m. Mr. Atkins growing worse: for three hours he suffered very much, at 8.30 he died. Stephen, one of the Solomon boys, is suffering very much.

28/9. At 3.30 a.m. Stephen died from his wounds of the poisoned arrows. 8 a.m. Buried Mr. Atkin and Stephen.

So died the Bishop's faithful companions, while on Nukapu the murderer, Atule, went in terror of his life, living alone in the bush, dreading the vengeful anger of the Chief. Once or twice he visited his mother in the night time, and persuaded her to try and appease the Chief by presents of food and money. In time, and helped perhaps by these presents, the anger of the Chief subsided, and Atule ventured forth from his concealment. But the people, would have nothing to do with him, and, being self banished to Santa Cruz, he, in his turn, was killed.

Of the seed silently sown that day on Nukapu Atule's sister was among the first fruits. Forty years later she and seven others were baptized by Mr. Bury on S. Barnabas Day, 1911.

In the picture she is seen standing near the Memorial Cross at Nukapu. Meanwhile the five kidnapped youths on Fiji, all unconscious of the tragedy at home of which [16/18] they had been the innocent cause, took the usual steps of a recruit, wishful to return, and stole a canoe;--A voyage of over 1,000 miles lay before them, full of peril, and only four of the party arrived safely at Nukapu. Alas, they brought with them that dreaded scourge, dysentry, which, spreading through Nukapu and the neighbouring reef islands, swept away very many lives.


Such was the end of the noble life of Bishop Patteson and such the sequel to his death and that of his martyred companions; but what that life and death has meant to the Mission is beyond the power of human estimate. It has been the inspiration of both white and natives during the last fifty years. The impression made on those who were on board at the time has never ceased. Edward Wogale was afterwards ordained Deacon and worked faithfully until his death in 1883. Joseph Wate served as deacon in S. Mala, and Charles Sapibuana was the first Florida Deacon, a man of tremendous influence during the first difficult days of Florida. And this impression has continued as our inspiration ever since. It seems that God, by the triple martyrdom, purposed to inspire every department of the Mission's life. Each succeeding Bishop has kept before him the Vision of the Saintly Bishop "whose life was taken by men for whose sake he would willingly have given it";--his life has been their constant inspiration. In the same way the death of the Priest has inspired the Mission priests to devotion and loyalty and courage. For the Melanesians, the death of Stephen has raised the whole idea of service, and has preached faithfulness unto death to many of our teachers in the village schools. And for the Church at large, we have only to remember that the sad news reached England on S. Andrew's Day, and, that from that day S. Andrews-tide has become the special season for intercession on behalf of Foreign Missions throughout the world. Many have heard the martyr's cry, "How long," and many, we pray, will still hear it, and dedicate themselves to the Mission work of the Church. "O let the vengeance of thy servants' blood that is shed be openly showed upon the heathen in our sight!"


That there should be a visible memorial to the Bishop, it was decided to build a memorial Chapel on Norfolk [18/21] Island, and to set up a cross on the spot where he was killed.



In 1885 Bishop Selwyn and Mr. Lister Kaye took down to Nukapu on the "Southern Cross" a large galvanized iron Cross with a circular copper disc, and, after some discussion with the Chief, Moto, and his people, it was decided to erect the cross near the shore, close to the hut where the Bishop met his death, between the hut and the sea. The people were anxious to have it so placed that it might be clearly seen by all passing ships. Prayers were offered by the Bishop, including the beautiful collect for All Saints Day, and presents were afterwards given to every one on the island, thus making it clear that only thoughts of peace and kindness were in the minds of the visitors.

Among those who took part in the service that day were three of Bishop Patteson's earliest scholars, including Mano Wadrokal, who had taught at Nengone in the Loyalties until the work in those islands was given up. He elected to stay with the. Bishop and was afterwards ordained; and from 1880, until he retired, he worked in the Santa Cruz group, where, as he said, "his father had been killed."

The Cross faces due west, making it, as Bishop Selwyn pointed out, "a most fitting Memorial to the Bishop whose life was known to but few in its noontide, but shone forth to many in the eventide of his death."

Since then many hundreds have seen the Cross and read the beautiful inscription round the copper disc.

Whose life was here taken by men, for whose
sake he would willingly have given it.

Sept. 20, 1871


An appeal for funds was made in England towards the cost of building the Chapel, and money was readily subscribed.


Several architects were engaged in drawing up plans for the new Chapel, and that of Sir J. G. Jackson, London, was eventually accepted. Gifts were offered, most liberally, towards furnishing the Chapel, and provision was made for the supply of the necessary labour at Norfolk Island.

After the Bishop's death Dr. Codrington became administrator of the diocese, and he had the chief oversight and management of the work. The site was cleared and levelled by the boys under the care of the Rev. John Palmer, assisted by David Buffett, one of the Norfolk Islanders, and his son.

William Taylor, a stonemason, who had landed with his wife and children on the Island some years before, began to quarry stone at a reef a little to the west of Emily Bay. In this he was assisted by two other masons brought from Auckland, and also by Mr. Francis Nobbs, son of the Island Chaplain, Mr. Rossiter, the schoolmaster, Charles Christian, Abraham Quintal, Charles Buffett and other Islanders.

The stone had to be carted in bullock drays a distance of three miles to the site chosen at the Mission.

The foundation stone was laid in 1875 on November 22nd by Dr. Codrington in the presence of the Mission Clergy and scholars, Mr. Nobbs, the Chaplain of the Island, and many of the Norfolk Islanders also. The prayer of Dedication was offered in both English and Mota. The usual records and coins were placed under the stone and offerings were laid upon it. The stone is not marked, but it is near the organ chamber at the southern end of the apse.

Among other helpers was Nat Satterfield, afterwards the Mission painter for fifty years. The name "Nat" is inscribed indelibly in the heart and faithful memory of every Norfolk Island boy.

Meanwhile suitable pines were being cut and dressed under the supervision of William Kendall, who had worked for many years in New Zealand for Bishop George Augustus Selwyn, and many of the Norfolkers rendered him valuable assistance.



[24] Mr. George Bailey, blacksmith, and his friend Hindley were also living on the island. Hindley was put in charge of the woodwork, and Bailey did most of the ironwork connected with the Chapel. He also erected the organ, the gift of Bishop Patteson's cousin, Miss Charlotte Yonge of Otterbourne, a lifelong friend of the Melanesian Mission. The organ was built by Henry Willis, London, and was carried by schooner to Norfolk Island from Auckland. For a time it was stored in the Mission house, then temporarily put up in the old Chapel and finally placed in the South transept of the new Chapel. It is a beautiful instrument and has five hundred pipes.

Besides the local stone, a warm yellow sandstone was brought by schooner from New Zealand for use in parts of the chancel, but, it must be confessed, that it is quite the least satisfactory part of the Chapel. The stone seems badly suited to the Norfolk Island climate, and has crumbled and fretted very much, despite several efforts to preserve it.

The marble pavement was brought from the Quarries near Torquay in the Bishop's native county of Devonshire. The marble, black, white and salmon pink, of the Nave and Font was the gift of the sisters and personal friends of the late Bishop.

The marble of the Chancel was given by the College friends of the late Hon. Rev. Stephen James Fremantle, the first Oxford Secretary of the Melanesian Mission.
Hindley proved to be a competent but slow workman, and it was found necessary to ask Kendall to assist him. It was he who supervised the setting of the rose window in the west end of the nave.


As the Chapel neared completion preparations were made for the Consecration Service. A number of guests from Australia and New Zealand were invited by Bishop Selwyn to visit the Island, and a special voyage of the "Southern Cross" was planned to bring them. The party left Auckland on November 25th, 1880, in number about fifty, and included Bishop Stuart of Waiapu, Archdeacon Maunsell, who translated the Bible into Maori, the Ven. B. T. Dudley, the Secretary and Treasurer of the Mission, the Rev. B. Y. Ashwell, who worked as a Missionary among [24/26] the Maoris for forty years, Dr. Kinder, Warden of St. John's College, Auckland, a Maori Priest named Renata Tangata, and a Maori deacon, Kerehona Puvaka.



The "Southern Cross" anchored at the Cascades landing on December 2nd, and was met by Bishop Selwyn, who rowed out to welcome his guests. A very happy week was spent, visiting the people and the many interesting places on the island. Special services were held both at the Mission and in the Town Church, and an organ recital was given on the new organ by Mr. Brown of Auckland.

Tuesday, December 7th, had been fixed for the Consecration Service. The Mission grounds were gaily decked with flags, and the Chapel was beautifully decorated under the direction of Dr. Codrington. It was one of Norfolk Island's glorious summer mornings, when a very large number of people from the Mission and the island gathered together to take part in the service.

From the old chapel the nineteen clergy, among whom was the Deacon, Edward Wogale, who had been on the "Southern Cross" when Bishop Patteson was killed, proceeded in procession through the West door and up the marble pavement to the Altar:-the first of those countless processions which have passed over the same ground on Festival Days at S. Barnabas.

At the Altar, the petition for Consecration was presented from the Trustees by Mr. J. H. Upton of Auckland. After this, Psalm 115 was sung, special prayers were offered, and the Sentence of Consecration was pronounced by the Bishop. The Service was printed in both Mota and English so that all might take their part. After Morning Prayer, at which the Psalms were 84, 122 and 132, and the Lessons I. Kings 8, 22-61: Hebrews 12, 18, the Holy Communion followed. The Ven. B. P. Dudley, Archdeacon of Auckland, preached the sermon, using for his text Isaiah 53, 11. The offerings, given in the Chapel, amounted to £96, and were presented by four of the Mission clergy. In the afternoon another service in English was held, and Dr. Stuart, Bishop of Waiapu, preached. This was the last of the series connected with the Consecration Festival, and the visitors left for Auckland the next afternoon by the "Southern Cross."



It was on S. Barnabas Day that the site of the Mission was chosen by Mr. Palmer, who brought the first boys to the island, and to S. Barnabas the new Chapel was, therefore, dedicated. In the picture is seen the original home of the Mission, to which Mr. Palmer brought the boys from Kohimarama and where they lived, till the present Mission site was chosen. It stands a few hundred yards outside the Mission boundary, and has been added to, since those days when it was occupied by Mr. Edward Buffett.


The Chapel is cruciform in shape with apsidal end and verandah porch. The foundations and walls of the Chapel and the porch are all of local sandstone, which is proving very durable. Externally, the building is divided into three bays by heavy buttresses, which project to a distance of five feet; similar buttresses are built between the windows in the apse. The length of the nave is fifty-four feet by twenty-seven feet: the height of the wall from the floor to the wall plate is seventeen feet: the chord of the semicircular chancel is twenty-four feet. The apex of the apse is surmounted by an ornamental iron Cross seven feet high, and a plain Calvary Cross stands at the West end of the building.

The ceiling, organ chamber and vestry are of carefully selected pine, only the heart of the oldest trees being used. The roof is of shingles, split from local pine. The Chapel has been shingled three times, in 1880, 1893 and in 1918. In 1893 Mr. Kendall, who helped with the building of the Chapel, bought fifty thousand Kauri shingles in New Zealand as a gift to the Mission: these were landed from the "Southern Cross" and laid by the Norfolk Islanders without payment. Again in 1918 pine shingles were cut and put up by the people without expense to the Mission.

The Belfry stands a few yards away from the Chapel on the South side. The bell has an inscription, showing that it was the gift of Mrs. Goodenough. It was originally intended for Santa Cruz, where Commodore Goodenough was killed, but as it was too large for an island church, Bishop Wilson obtained the consent of Mrs. Goodenough to use it at Norfolk Island.

[28] It was hung on May, 14th, 1902, and its sweet tones can be heard in calm weather all over the island.


In the East end of the Chancel there are five beautiful windows, said to be amongst the best work of Sir E. Burne-Jones and Morris & Co., Merton Abbey, Surrey: the colouring is glorious, deep orange and crimson being the prominent tints. In the centre window over the Altar is the picture of our Lord as Rex Omnipotens: on either side two of the Evangelists with their symbols. The windows were the gift of Dowager Viscountess Downe. The polished shafts are of coloured marble, and the capitals have been most artistically carved by Dr. Codrington.

At the West end, over the door, is a large rose-window, and underneath it Philip the Deacon is shown baptizing the Eunuch, with small foliated lights on either side. These windows were the gift of members of the Mission in memory of their brethren, who had given their lives in the islands. Near the window is a brass plate with the following inscription, in the Mota language:

"O tironin iloke si a nomkel nia apen ragai ira loloqon me vene mateira alo we ga--gapalag O Lea we wia i Siwo."

Edwin Nobbs.
Fisher Young.

Joseph Atkin.
Stephen Taroaniara.

Turpea lele kel o Malagene
Ape Malagene, pa we sea nan
O Vawia.

The translation reads, "This window is set to remember those shot by the heathen, while ministering the Gospel in the islands. Not rendering evil for evil, but contrariwise blessing."




[31] THE CHANCEL at once meets the attention on entering the Chapel. The pavement is of marble--a beautiful piece of work, black, white and pink radiating out from the Altar to the Steps. A large brass plate is let in near the lowest step, with the following inscription:

This pavement is set in affectionate memory of Stephen James Fremantle, First Oxford Secretary of the Melanesian Mission, by his school and college friends.
A.D. 1877

The reredos is of dark walnut with three panels inlaid with mosaic work, gold ground with blue and red, showing an ornamental cross in the centre, and the symbols of the four Evangelists at the sides. The rich colouring quite lights up the chancel, and rivets the attention at once on the Altar. The carving is beautifully done and shows vine leaves, grapes and knotted palm leaves. It was the gift of Mrs. W. Gibbs and her son, Mr. H. M. Gibbs.

The hangings on either side of the Altar were given by Mrs. Goodenough, widow of Commodore Goodenough of H.M.S. "Pearl," who was killed at Santa Cruz in 1875. The Altar itself is in perfect proportion, of dark walnut wood. It was provided from money raised by Madame Barbe Patteson of Cannes. The heavy brass lamps were the gift of Bishop Selwyn. The Sedilia, on either side of the Altar, were the latest addition to the furniture of the Chapel. They were erected in 1910 and are of dark American walnut wood. A surplus balance from the "Charlotte Yonge Memorial Fund," raised to furnish the Sanctuary of the "Southern Cross," was used to meet the cost of these Sedilia, which had formed part of the original design of Sir J. G. Jackson the Architect, but for lack of funds had been omitted.

Mention should be made of the beautiful oak-bound prayer book used at the Altar Services. It was given to Bishop John Selwyn on becoming Master of Selwyn College, Cambridge, and, after his death in 1898, was sent by Mrs. Selwyn for use in the Chapel of S. Barnabas.






At the West end of the Chapel on either side of the Rose window are the flags of the Bishops; underneath these are tablets commemorating Bishop Patteson and Archdeacon Palmer (on the South side) and Bishop John Selwyn on the North. The large brass plate in memory of Bishop Patteson has the following inscription:

"In memory of John Coleridge Patteson, D.D., eldest son of Sir John Patteson, Knight, Judge of the Queen's Bench, born April 1, A.D. 1827; consecrated the first Bishop of Melanesia February 24th, A.D. 1861; murdered by natives of Nukapu in the South Pacific Ocean on the Eve of the Feast of Saint Matthew, September 20, A.D. 1871. In childhood and in youth he was chiefly distinguished among his fellows by a rare purity, integrity and simplicity of character. His natural powers of mind and body had been slowly matured by culture, and not without patient self-discipline, when, in the prime of early manhood he dedicated himself to lifelong missionary labour, leaving his Devonshire home without thought of return. At first he served under the Bishop of New Zealand, carrying the Gospel to shores heretofore untrodden by Europeans, and educating native youths entrusted to his charge under a collegiate system conducted by himself in the faith of Christ, and in the industrial arts of civilization. When he afterwards undertook the vast diocese of Melanesia, he seemed to be endowed with new gifts and energies, acquiring a matchless knowledge of native tongues, and yearly navigating his mission ship through perilous seas to seek converts among wild races, softened by his influence, and bear home fresh scholars to his native college at Norfolk Island, where he renewed the studies and interests of his English life. [34/36] In these Apostolic voyages and administrations, carried on with unflagging zeal for more than sixteen years, without rest, without regret, without earthly reward, he displayed a calm resolution in the presence of danger, an instinctive judgment in overcoming difficulty, a tender compassion for the sick, and suffering, and a liberal Catholicity of spirit and sympathies, which not only won for him the deep reverence and affection of his spiritual brethren and children, but made his name beloved through all the isles of the South Pacific, until he fell by the hand of one who knew not what he did, in the midst of his career, at the post of duty, continuing the faithful soldier and servant of Christ unto his life's end."



The smaller tablet on the West wall, next to that of the Bishop, is of black gun-metal with raised brass letters in memory of John Palmer, who brought the first party of scholars to Norfolk Island in 1866.

"To the Glory of God and in loving and thankful Memory of John Palmer, Archdeacon of Southern Melanesia, Bachelor of Divinity, who for forty years served God in this Mission, mostly in the Banks Islands and in this place, with a single mind and faithful labour. He flied at Auckland, March 12, 1902, aged 64 years."


"O tanun anan GOD we nun, o gagapalag alo loglue we kokomag, we lolo vatawasai, O meremanas, O meretape, gate mot ilo mon O tinegaro sin pirin iake wa i siwo gai mate. Aia matai rowrowovag."

(Translation: A true man of God, and faithful worker in the Church, single hearted, obedient, loving, who laboured zealously both here and in the islands until his death--
Well done, good servant.)



[39] On the Northern side of the West wall is a large brass cross with steps on an oak background in commemoration of the life of John Selwyn, second Bishop of Melanesia; it has the following inscription: "Giving thanks to God for John Richardson, Bishop of Melanesia, 1877-1892, Master of Selwyn College, Cambridge, 1893-1898, the son of George Augustus Selwyn, Bishop of New Zealand and afterwards of Lichfield, founder of the Melanesian Mission. John Richardson Selwyn gave himself to the work of this Mission in 1872 in strength and love; sick and maimed he laid it down, in both alike obedient to the will of God: he entered into rest on 12th February, 1898, in his fifty-fourth year.

"A Servant of Jesus Christ."--Rom. I, 1.
"A teacher of the Gentiles."--II. Tim. I., 11.


At the time of the consecration in 1880 the seats had not yet been placed. They are arranged as in an English College Chapel, not facing east, but running lengthwise, either side of the marble paved aisle. There are three tiers on either side, each rising one step higher from the pavement to the wall. All the pews are of specially selected Kauri, and this, like the pine, has acquired a rich brown tint, almost like a dark mahogany, very restful to the eye. The fronts of the pews have been carefully worked up, and the ends are beautifully decorated with pearl shell, set in black cement; some of the designs are shown, though any picture must fail to do justice to the delicate work and rich colouring. This part of the work was under the direction of Dr. Codrington, Dr. Comins and Dr. Ivens, assisted very ably by some of the senior scholars; and notably by the Ulawa boys, who are specially clever at this kind of inlaid work. The two pew ends nearest the Altar are perhaps the most beautiful: dark violet and orange cowrie shell are chiefly used in one; in the other, adapted from a Maori design, variously coloured turtle shell has been cleverly arranged by Dr. Comins.

THE LECTERN, with revolving top and provision for the Old and New Testaments on either side, was designed and carved by Dr. Codrington. If anything, it is rather too large, obstructing, as it does, the view of the Altar.


[41] THE PRAYER DESK is made of sandal wood, and was used by Bishop Patteson in the old Chapel. Like the Lectern, it is unnecessarily large.


The massive and handsome silver candlesticks on the Altar were bought with part of the money from the sale of a presentation made to Bishop Patteson's father, as recorded on a brass tablet near the organ, which reads as follows:

"The silver candlesticks in this church, purchased with a part of the proceeds of the sale of a testimonial presented by the University and Borough of Cambridge to the late Rt. Hon. Sir John Patteson, which testimonial was bequeathed by the above Sir John Patteson to his son, John Coleridge Patteson, D.D., first Bishop of Melanesia, are dedicated to the use of the Melanesian Mission, in joint memory of the father, who freely gave his son, and of the son, who devoted himself and all that he had to the work of the Mission. ALL SAINTS DAY, 1885."


THE ALTAR CROSS was made at the suggestion of the late Rev. L. P. Robin, organizing Secretary in England, when he visited Melanesia in 1905. There was then a certain amount of old silver, which had belonged to Bishop Patteson, and this was taken to England by Mr. Robin and melted down. From this a Cross was made, designed by Archdeacon Comins to correspond with the candlesticks, and a most beautiful piece of work is the result.


Two sets of vessels were in use at S. Barnabas Chapel. The larger set is of fine silver brass, beautifully engraved. The Chalice has a diamond and ruby ring let into the stem: it was placed in the alms dish by a worshipper more than [41/42] fifty years ago. The Chalice and paten bear the following inscription:

"For the Glory of God this Chalice (Paten) is given to the Bishop of the Western Islands of the South Pacific for the use of his Mission. All Saints Day, A.D. 1861."

The Flagon has the following:

"Gloria in Excelsis Deo. Alleluia."

The Alms Dish, of copper brass bearing the figure of S. Andrew with his cross, has the following: "Tua sunt omnia Domine et de tuis dedimus tibi."

The smaller set of vessels was given by Dr. Welchman in memory of his wife, Helen Welchman, daughter of Mr. Rossiter mentioned above, who worked as a Missionary at Norfolk Island, and died at Siota in the Solomons, January 12, 1897. The Chalice is studded with large rubies.


For many years the Holy Communion was celebrated on alternate Sundays in the Mota language and in English, and on Thursday mornings in English. Latterly there has, been a daily celebration at 6.30 a.m. It has always been the custom to administer Holy Baptism to adults on Easter Eve, the preparation classes being held during Lent.

The daily services are thus described by Bishop Montgomery, who visited the Mission in the interregnum between Bishop John Selwyn and Bishop Wilson. "On the evening of my arrival I attended the usual evening prayers. No one has ever failed to be thrilled by their first experience of a Service in S. Barnabas Chapel. Behind me, playing the organ with vigour and much feeling, was John Pantutun, a Melanesian. All down the Chapel were some 170 Melanesians, reverent in demeanour and singing and repeating the responses as one body. English Chants and tunes were used. A long solemn pause came after the service was finished, while every head was bowed in silent prayer. Then, as noiselessly as they came in, they filed out--the girls first, then the Mission party, then the boys--the bare feet on the marble making no sound whatever. Every morning at 7 a.m. and every evening at 7 p.m., the [42/43] whole family, for it is just a family, meets for worship, mattins and evensong. Most helpful it is, and it seems to impart that sober, devotional, soothing tone to the day which churchmen love more and more, when it can be had."

The last services connected with the Mission were held in the Chapel during the S. Barnabas Festival, 1920. The Chapel was formally closed in the octave, when the Holy Communion was celebrated for the last time.


If it be impossible to estimate the influence of Bishop Patteson on the lives of Missionaries and scholars, it is equally impossible to give expression to the meaning of this Chapel, built to his memory. It has meant everything it has continued his presence amongst us all these years. Daily, Melanesian boys and girls have gathered with their white fathers and mothers. At least two thousand have gathered there, and most of them for several years. Melanesian priests, as well as white Missionaries, have offered the Blessed Sacrament and preached the word, and all this has been carried to the islands in the hearts of the boys and girds, when they returned to teach: habits of prayer and worship have been formed at S. Barnabas, which have been the strength and inspiration of hundreds of our teachers in the village schools; and have been the means of deepening the lives of thousands and tens of thousands of the people of the islands.

Besides, the Chapel has been of great practical use in showing the people a more worthy style of church building for their guidance in the islands. It has taught the beauty of holiness, how lovely God's house can be, and has inspired very many to offer their best. Many churches in the islands are beautifully constructed, involving a vast amount of work with the scanty tools available. Again and again one sees parts of S. Barnabas' Chapel reproduced, and, in a few cases, a pathetic attempt has been made to copy the Chapel as a whole. All this seems to be an answer to the prayer offered at the Consecration Service in 1880--"That as the glory of this house far exceeds all that they have seen in their own lands, so they may learn to think of that more glorious home above, where the pure in heart shall see Thee in Thy beauty, and in the Holy City shall ever worship Thee, the Temple and the Light thereof."

[44] In the early days when it was often difficult to persuade leading men in the islands to come to Norfolk Island, and to allow the boys to come for training, the chapel proved a great attraction; and many came to see the Chapel for themselves, or allowed boys to come for training, so that they might receive first hand accounts of the Chapel, about which they had heard so much.

The influence of the Chapel has spread also through Christian lands. It has been the soul of Norfolk Island. Life in the island has been wonderfully raised by the spiritual life and power, which has flowed from the regular worship and prayer offered in S. Barnabas'. And from Norfolk Island, in no less degree, has that spiritual influence been felt among the Mission's friends and helpers, strengthening prayer and deepening enthusiasm for the progress of Christ's work in Melanesia.

And who dare say that the spiritual power stored up in the centre of our work will ever be spent? Spiritual things are eternal and must continue to raise all we do to higher levels. The life of Bishop Patteson is a permanent gift to Melanesia: the, Chapel is the outward sign and memorial of his continued presence with the Mission he loved, and for which he died.

Both Bishop Patteson and his friend Max Müller had visions;--may we not take them and turn them into prayer? Before his death the Bishop wrote: "Sometimes I have a Vision--a small but exceedingly beautiful Gothic Chapel, rich inside with marbles and stained glass, and carved stalls and encaustic tiles and brass screen work. . . . It may come some day, and, most probably, long after I am dead and gone."

And Max Müller looks back to the distant past when there was as yet no Rome, no Athens, when Britain was but a fabulous island; and then he looks forward to the distant future when the 'black' islands of the Pacific shall be changed into bright and happy homes with busy harbours and industrious people: and, in the centre of all this wonderful change, he sees his friend. "Depend upon it--in that far distant future the name of Patteson will live in every cottage, in every school, and church of Melanesia, as the never-to-be-forgotten name of a good and brave [44/45] God-fearing and God-living man . . . revealing among the lowest of Melanesian savages the indelible God-like stamp of human nature, and by upholding a true faith in God."

Our prayer on the 50th Anniversary of the Bishop's death was that God, who has so wonderfully fulfilled his vision, may use it to the fulfilment of that other vision, when the sadness of heathen life shall give place to joy through the faithful preaching of the Gospel of Christ.





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